The PJ Tatler

'Take a Stand': Graham Says Cantor's Loss Stemmed from Trying to Change Minds of Opponents

How did House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) lose his seat to an unknown while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) successfully warded off a pack of Tea Party challengers?

“I think I defined myself in a very good way,” Graham told CNN this morning.

“I had an air game and a ground game very coordinated. Politics is war in another form,” said the Air Force veteran and reservist. “We had a lot of money, but we had 5,200 precinct captains. So, we prepared the ground game. Nobody saw that coming. We really overwhelmed them on the ground. But I was a conservative leader who gets things done.”

He acknowledged that the immigration issue didn’t have the same effect on his campaign.

“Sixty-five percent of South Carolina Republicans support an earned pathway to citizenship. If you secure the border, have more legal immigration, and control who gets a job, 65 percent of South Carolinians say, learn the English language, pay a fine, get in back of the line, pass criminal background checks, wait 10 years. Then you can apply for a green card,” Graham said.

“If you have done all these things, if you’re a nonfelon, 65 percent of the Republicans in my state said that made sense.”

When asked what lesson the Cantor-Graham split held for Republicans, Graham replied, “I think the first thing you ought to do — this issue is big, right? Take a stand.”

“Thirty-five percent that disagree what I have said, I didn’t run a campaign trying to change their mind. I ran a campaign talking to the 65 percent, but, more than anything else, the biggest fault I — attributed to me by my opponents was that I would work with the other side to get things done,” he said. “I turned that into my biggest asset.”